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Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

We have been fortunate enough to speak with many countless entrepreneurs about their ideas. The most common problem they have told us they face is knowing how to clearly define their idea in order to make a start somewhere. There is no simple answer to that problem. We know starting app design with a blank sheet of paper is hard. But the problem is not new, and there is a reliable process for getting through it.

For starters, let’s state some truths that we know are rock-solid.

  1. The ultimate judge of your idea is the market i.e. your customers. Nobody else can tell you whether your idea will be successful or not.
  2. When faced with unsolicited advice (or even highly-paid advice for that matter) about your idea, refer back to 1.

This means that much of the trepidation, nervous excitement and change-of-heart early on in many projects is simply wasted energy. You don’t really know if adding that additional function your neighbour mentioned, or changing the colour to blue will make the app more successful. It may actually be the opposite. But what we do know for sure is that any time you spend not focusing on bringing the core functionality to market and receiving feedback from real users is time wasted.

So from this reasoning comes the idea of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This is defined by legendary entrepreneur Eric Ries as the minimum possible version of your idea that could generate the biggest amount of validated knowledge about your customer.

In other words, an MVP is the core functionality that would solve your customer’s pain point and allow you to gather insights into and feedback from how they actually use your product in the real world (not in a lab or in theory!), which you could then use to iterate into a scalable winner as quickly as possible.

Speed is always of the essence and customer is king.

The Minimum Viable Product approach to building out your mobile or SaaS app also has the advantage of minimising your own risks. It is far too easy to get sucked into the wormhole of never-ending functionality enhancements and additional costs when building software. There is even a term for it - “Scope creep”. So you executing laser-focused MVP thinking lets you cut out the pork and aim for a useful version 1 at the minimum possible budget.

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